Kids love the beach—all that water, all that sand! My kids could not get enough (still can’t now at 23 and 19). However, there are many fun kid-friendly things to do away from the beach (sort of). Whether you are visiting for the day or having a non-beach day during a longer visit, here is one way to spend a fun (almost no beach) day with kids in Cape May.
Cape May Lighthouse
The Cape May Lighthouse is located in Cape May Point State Park. I lost track of how many times my kids have climbed to the top.
The Cape May Lighthouse:
- has 199 steps
- is 157 feet tall
- was built in 1859
- opened to the public in 1988
- has had 2.5 million visitors since it opened
The stairs spiral upward from the base and there are little cubbies where you can take a break and peer out to see how high you are. The top is securely caged, so it is perfectly safe for young ones. It does get pretty blustery up there, so plan accordingly. The view is beyond spectacular! You can get a sneak peak of what you are in for by watch this video of a virtual climb.
The lighthouse is supported my Cape May MAC, as are so many other wonderful things in the area.
The Lighthouse grounds also host many fun activities, such as Christmas in July (July 25th), National Lighthouse Day (August 7th) and several Family Fun days (Wednesday throughout July and early August). Ghost tours even make a stop at the Lighthouse. You can read more about ghosts in Cape May in my post Are there really ghosts in Cape May?
Across the parking lot from the Lighthouse there are several wooden walkways and platforms with great views of the ocean and surrounding marsh lands. There are a few picnic tables as well where you can stop and have a rest and a snack. Note: there are no food vendors-so bring your own snacks.
World War II Lookout Tower
This is a very quick stop, but our kids liked looking out and imagining what it was like in 1942 when it was built. Originally, the World War II Lookout Tower was one of four that were in Cape May County to spot enemy ships off the coast of Cape May. The 100-foot tower has a mere 99 steps and contains tons of pictures and memorabilia of the era. In the rear of the building, there is an Eternal Flame Memorial honoring veterans, which is a must see.
The tower is also part of the NJ State Parks. It was restored and is maintained by Cape May MAC.
So, I know I said non-beach day, but Sunset beach is different. This beach is more pebbly than sandy and the only place to find the famous Cape May Diamonds. For those uninitiated, Cape May Diamonds are pieces of quartz that have traveled and tumbled down the Delaware river and deposited on Sunset Beach. My husband went in search of Cape May Diamonds when he was a kid and was delighted to share that experience with our kids.
Of course, that is by no means the only thing to do there. There are several wonderful gift shops with a huge variety of things from home goods, to shells, to gemstones, to clothing—the list goes on and on. I am not sure if they still sell them there, but that is where my kids got their very first hermit crabs! Frankly, leaving the gift shops empty handed is rare in my experience. What kid doesn’t want to get something to remember the trip by?
Mini golf is located next to the largest gift shop. It is a full 18 holes with the first 9 being wheelchair accessible. There are many mini golf courses in Cape May, but none have this magnificent view.
A concrete ship – yes you read that correctly! The USS Atlantus is one of 12 concrete ships that were put into service in 1919, but de-commissioned only a year later. The Atlantus was towed to Cape May in 1926 to be used as a ferry, but a storm ran her aground where she sits today. You can see a peak of it in the picture above.
By now you will probably be really hungry, but you are in luck. The Grille at Sunset Beach serves sandwiches, salads, soft ice cream, water ice and cold drinks. The food is made to order, and the view can’t be beat!
Beach Plum Farm
Beach Plum Farm is part of Cape Resorts and actually provides fruits, vegetables, herbs, eggs and other things to their fine restaurants. First of all, this 62-acre working farm is gorgeous. It would be a perfect venue for any special occasion celebration, but that’s for another post. Beach Plum Farm has a beautiful market and gift shop, but they might not be as kid friendly.
What is kid friendly you ask? Feeding the chickens is great fun. They strut about in their own free-range section, but also walking just about everywhere. There are trails for walking and biking that wind through the farm. Grab a map at the barn. A rustic farm swing hangs from a tree in the back fields and begs to be tried. Did I mention pigs and ducks? While out and about on the trails, you will see lots of pigs and ducks. The café on site is fabulous, but the menu is limited and may not have a selection that fits a young appetite. Of course, you be the judge.
I don’t know about your kiddos, but that would be a full day for mine. Wait—one more stop I would suggest. If you are heading back toward town on Sunset Boulevard, stop for an ice cream at Scoops in Sunset Plaza. You’re welcome!
I hope you agree that this is a fun (almost no beach) day with kids in Cape May. Here’s a handy map to give you a good look at how the day would go. Click on it to go to Google Maps.
It is worth noting that there are many other kid friendly, off beach things to do with young ones in the Cape May area. I will be writing about them in future posts. If you have a favorite, please comment below. I would love to hear about it!
Side note: Ian and Rachel are 10 and 7 in most of these pictures. WOW time flies!